A growing number of academic health centers (AHCs) are considering approaches to expand collaboration with their communities in order to address complex and multisystem health concerns. In 2010, internal leaders at the University of Kansas Medical Center undertook a strategic planning process to enhance both community engagement activities and the scholarship resulting from these engagement activities. The authors describe the strategic planning process, recommendations, and actions associated with elevating community engagement within the AHC’s mission and priorities.
The strategic planning process included conducting an inventory of community engagement activities within the AHC; analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for community engagement work; and identifying goals and strategies to improve future community engagement activities and scholarship. The resulting road map for enhancing community engagement at their institution through 2015 consists of four main strategies: emphasize scholarship in community engagement, revise organizational structures to better facilitate community engagement, prioritize current engagement activities to ensure appropriate use of resources, and enhance communication of engagement initiatives to further develop stakeholder relationships.
The authors also discuss implementation of the plan to date and highlight lessons learned that may inform other AHCs as they enhance and expand similar endeavors.
Dr. Cook is associate vice chancellor of community engagement and associate professor of health policy and management, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Dr. Nelson is director of research, Institute for Community Engagement, and associate professor of pediatrics and telemedicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Ms. Ast is outreach communications manager, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Ms. Lillis is student assistant, Institute for Community Engagement, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Cook, Institute for Community Engagement, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Mailstop 3056, Kansas City, KS 66160; telephone: (913) 588-2251; fax: (913) 945-6893; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.